‘I think denim is something everyone feels comfortable in. It’s kind of my uniform, really’ – Clemence Poesy
From bell bottoms in the ‘60s to extreme ripped jeans in 2018, denim has certainly been through a lot since the release of the humble blue jean 145 years ago. So, which were the trends that really took off? And what can we expect from denim in the future? I’ve teamed up with Trilogy Stores, retailers of Woman’s denim leggings to have a look at denim through the ages.
A step back in time
The blue jean was originally designed as durable work-wear for labourers in America back in 1873. But how have denim trends change through the decades?
It wasn’t until the 1950s when denim jeans exploded onto the fashion scene as a rebellious statement. Still in the 50s, the straight-legged jean was predominantly worn by men; actors and singers leading the dirty, working class, rugged-look trend.
In the 1960s, when peace and love prevailed, the denim jean entered its hippie phase. Women were now embracing them and it was all about casual styles, bell bottom flares and low-rise fits. The relaxed fits represented the culture at the time and jeans were fast becoming staple wardrobe items for everyone.
My Mum and Dad bossing the denim look in the 70s and 80s
Enter denim jackets, and suddenly double denim (aka ‘The Texas Tuxedo’) was not only acceptable but actively encouraged. Stone washes (shudder) and bright embroidery were also starting to take off, which encouraged DIY denim and personalisation to varying degrees of success.
With sales of denim jackets and jeans soaring, there was no stopping designers. Denim skirts and vest tops became big in the 1970s, with more and more celebrities jumping on the bandwagon – all before B’Witched were even twinkles in their parent’s eyes.
Up until this point, denim jeans were very rigid with no give whatsoever. In 1980, interest in designer denim started to increase and premium brands began to emerge. Leg cuts became skinnier and more fitted, creating a feminine silhouette for females and a more tailored look. It was also around the ‘80s when ripped jeans came into fashion and acid wash (double shudder) became popular. Anyone bigger than a size 8 will know that acid wash was never a flattering colour, so thank God that died a death and has, so far, stayed buried.
The rise of hip hop in the 90s encouraged men and women to wear low slung, Calvin revealing baggy jeans, something which seems to have been adopted by the skater park youth of today. Denim overalls and ‘shortalls’ popular in that era aren’t looking like they’re leaving any time soon either.
The early 2000s paved the way for ultra low-rise jeans (cheers Britney!) when showing off your midriff (and thong!) was a fashion must-do. Flared trousers also made a comeback, accompanied by a subtler version with the bootcut jean. Innovations such as denim stretch technology meant that you no longer had to do the unflattering jumping up and down wiggle dance while putting a pair of freshly washed jeans on. Skinny jeans were now skinnier than ever and sales from premium brands such as Citizens of Humanity soared.
From then until now, skinny jeans have been most popular, even an avid bootcut fan like me has made the switch to them recently as they’re available in a range of washes and fits so they can be dressed up or down for men and women.
I’ve certainly embraced the skinny jean trend recently
What’s hot this season?
Fast-forward to the present day, what’s big this season?
As we’ve been having such an epic summer this year (so far) and BBQs are more of a weekly occurrence, we’re seeing more people rocking light coloured washes and lengths. From lilacs to pastel yellow, denim has certainly transformed from its classic indigo blue colour.
I pretty much lived in denim cutoffs this summer
When it comes to cuts and fits, it’s all about denim cut offs and cropped legs. Paired with classic summer sandals and a cross-body bag, this look is all about smart casual with a hint of flare inspired by the 1960s.
For the male fashionistas among us it’s all about straight legs and turn up hems. Styled with the on-trend checked patterns, it’s a contemporary twist on a classic look.
Future denim trends
What can we expect from the future when it comes to denim trends?
Hopefully the future hold more denim fashion other than jeans
There are constant developments to improve the wear and tear of denim, which could mean even longer lasting denim. There is also a large focus on sustainable denim, as manufacturers try to use recyclable materials and create new blends and standalone fibres.
When it comes to fashion styles, they’re hard to predict. But, we’ve seen the revival of the ‘60s and the ‘80s this season alone, so who knows what next season holds?. Could it be the return of rhinestone pockets (triple shudder) and bell bottom flares?